The New Monastic Individuals as the change agents for this transition period

Excerpted from Kingsley Dennis:

‘As we know from the life of social cycles, real change occurs when the “anomalies” — another word for the change agents — become too numerous to be absorbed into the incumbent system. That is why individuals and groups “doing their own thing” are so important right now. All great ideas and innovations began life as “disruptive” from the periphery, from “outsiders” — those people just going it alone, often “outside the box.” Morris Berman calls these people the New Monastic Individuals (NMI), and Berman thinks this is where the future lies. I’m inclined to agree with him. Berman puts forth a “new monastic” model of action whereby individuals/groups get on and create new ways of doing things, without fanfare or large billboard announcements. Such monastic work, so to speak, often operates below the radar, being authentic in activity rather than seeking visibility. The monastic worker, in seeking change, chooses a way of life that has meaning and that can be a heritage for the family. Often the monastic worker strives for assisting change within their own communities. They are like ink dots on the paper, slowly spreading their impact by diligent yet creative work. What makes this model not only more appealing today, but also much more effective, is the rise of global communications and distributed networks. Now,the hard-working monastics can connect, share, and collaborate.

So let us be wary of waiting around for the “next big thing'”or some grand televised miracle. If we are waiting for the current global system to implode completely we will have a very long wait. World systems don’t disappear — they re-structure. This re-structuring usually occurs during the decline phase, with the parts of the old model struggling on until they become the materials from which the re-structuring emerges. It’s not a simple case of one model suddenly coming in to replace another. During the “rise and fall” pattern, there occurs the recycling and re-use of social structures, practices, and resources. In other words, it is a process of transformation that occurs within the dynamics of internal collapse. It is difficult at times to see this transformation, as if transition is indistinguishable from disintegration in the early stages. Yet in times of transition (such as now), the monastic workers — or “disruptive innovators,” as they can be called — have greater potential because there is so much instability in the world. That is, the larger “system” is more vulnerable to shocks.

So doing things our own way, participating through our “small-scale” contributions, can have greater impact than would normally. It is an ideal time now to look toward our own lives, our future, and start to create for ourselves that which we wish to see. A time to examine our lifestyles (the food we eat, our securities, our dependencies, our networks, our finances, etc.), and to be truly honest with ourselves. Can we, for example, start new community food projects? Can we begin new local currencies? What can we share, or barter, with others?

The future is going to be about the people on the ground. It will be about the changes each of us makes in our lives to be more aligned with moving forward. It will be about how resilient we are to the shocks/changes that are coming. It will be about how to cultivate a focused and positive state of mind and being. And importantly, it will be a question of how to be inherently spiritual in our selves yet practical in our applications.

Transitional periods are not normal times — they are periods where individual action can have a much larger impact on historical developments… a time for monastic endeavor perhaps?”

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